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The Unexpected Psychological Benefits of Video Games

Many people view playing video games as “wasted time” and as a mere form of entertainment. Games also are often criticized regarding violence and explicit content, but are there benefits to developing this medium?

A recent article published by NPR described how an individual who suffered from a traumatic car crash is effectively coping with this memoryby playing video games. By playing the classic Russian video game Tetris, Bret Stetka could disconnect from these memories and engage in a simple pastime.

A study published in Molecular Psychiatry conducted by researchers in the UK and Sweden discovered that this type of distraction is actually an effective coping mechanism. The researchers stated, “we find a positive effect of the Tetris-based intervention delivered soon after trauma in the emergency department on the primary outcome measure—intrusive memories of trauma over 1 week.” The study claims that further research is needed in order to test the long-term effects of this “therapy.”

Additional research published in 2014 by the American Journal of Play cited that video games benefit “perceptual and cognitive skills.” The research argues that even if games are intended for entertainment that “games also use a number of techniques known to promote efficient and transferable learning.” The research encouraged the development of video games targeting education because of these unexpected benefits.

Moving forward it will be interesting to see how research that encourages the use of video games in non-conventional ways, such as therapy or as a learning tool. will influence the perception of the medium.

Read more at NPRMolecular Psychiatry, and the American Journal of Play

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